I've been buying TFs since nearly day one, but my purchasing dropped off substantially during G2. I didn't really transition from being a kid who bought toys into a toy collector until the mid 1990s, just in time for the Beast Wars renaissance of the the TF franchise.
There was no great resource at that time for buying toys online and most non brick and mortar collecting was done through usenet trading or auctions. So my life was consumed by daily phone calls and trips to toy stores in order to stay on top of shipments -- often to little effect. I even went so far as to work part time at a toy store, just to have a shot at keeping my collection intact.
What made collecting TFs around that time so pleasant, relative to Spawn, Star Wars, and a number of the more popular "collector" lines, is that with patience, you would ALWAYS come across Beast Wars toys. The supply was good, the short-packing was minimal, and by-and-large, the collectors (and scalpers) stayed away. The only rare items were inadvertent packaging variations or the occasional running change in paint applications on a particular figure.
Of course, things became more complex as time went on, and the point where the Japanese Beast Wars lines split from the U.S. ones was a watershed moment for me in terms of a need to explore other alternatives to collecting. But even for a long while thereafter, it was a pleasure to collect a toy franchise that would almost invariably make its way into brick and mortar retail outlets.
These days, I venture into stores mainly out of habit. BBTS gets most of my business, because the thrill of the hunt has been replaced by the stress of collecting toys that never show up in stores.